Cronje withdraws from Austrailia series

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The Independent Online

The South African cricket captain implicated in a match-fixing scandal has withdrawn from an upcoming series against Australia, according to the South African Press Association.

No details about Hansie Cronje's decision were given. The captaincy will be taken over by vice-captain Shaun Pollock. Cronje was absent from the team's practice on Tuesday morning.

The series against Australia is scheduled to start Wednesday.

Cronje, opening batsman Herschelle Gibbs, left-arm spinner Nicky Boje and batsman Pieter Strydom have been accused of accepting bribes from an Indian bookie to lose matches during their one-day international series in India earlier this month. All four have said they are innocent.

The charges are based on tapes and transcripts of a telephone conversation in which police say Cronje discussed payment for himself and others in return for throwing a match in the five-match series that India won 3-2.

South Africa has reacted strongly to the charges and has promised to investigate reports that cricket players' telephones were tapped during their official tour in India.

On Monday, South African officials asked India to hand over the tapes allegedly incriminating the cricket players.